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Jul 27 2015

Rainwater Gardens

With this rainy weekend behind, it is a fitting time to write about how to incorporate a rain garden into your landscape!

What is a rain garden?  Rain gardens are depressed areas of the landscape that are designed to retain stormwater runoff and allow it to slowly percolate into the ground.  They also help improve water quality and decrease erosion.  Another plus is that they require less maintenance, fertilizer, and water once they are established. 

So how do you decide where to place your rain garden and what plants you should use? If your landscape has a low points or area where water naturally stands this would be an ideal location.  Keep in mind- rain gardens need to be at least 10 feet from the house to prevent water damage to the fountation and at least 25 feet from septic tanks.  It is also important to place it in full sun and not within the driplines of existing trees. 

The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Science created a list of suitable plants for rain gardens in Southwest Florida.  Below we have included the list and highlighted a few of our favorites using the (*) symbol. 

Wildflowers, Ferns, Grasses, and Sedges:
*Canna flaccida, Golden canna
Eupatorium coelestinum, Blue mistflower
Helenium pinnatifidum, Everglades daisy
Lobelia glandulosa, Glades lobelia
Sabatia spp., Marsh pinks
*Acrostichum danaefolium, Leather fern
Osmunda regalis var. spectabilis, Royal fern
Thelypteris palustris, Marsh fern
Woodwardia virginica, Virginia chain fern
*Muhlenbergia capillaris, Gulf muhly grass

Trees and Shrubs:
*Acer rubrum var. trilobum, Red maple
Annona glabra, Pond apple
*Cephalanthus occidentalis, buttonbush
*Chrysobalanus icaco, Cocoplum
Gordonia lasianthus, Loblolly bay
Ilex cassine, Dahoon holly
Ilex glabra, Galberry
Magnolia virginiana, Sweetbay
Myrica cerifera, Wax myrtle
Myrsine floridana, Myrsine
*Sabal palmetto, Cabbage palm
Salix caroliniana, Coastal plain willow
*Serenoa repens, Saw palmetto
Taxodium ascendens, Pond cypress

See more information on the plants at: http://okeechobee.ifas.ufl.edu/News%20columns/FYN.Rain.Garden.htm